Wed, Sep 03, 2014 - Page 18 News List

World Cup final rerun as Germany host Argentina

LOOKING AHEAD:As Germany reveled in their fourth FIFA championship, Argentina adjusted to their new manager and the absence of an injured Lionel Messi


German national soccer team head coach Joachim Loew, right, receives a replica of the World Cup trophy from fans following his team’s open training session in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Monday.

Photo: EPA

Just 50 days after winning the World Cup for the fourth time, the German national team assembled in Duesseldorf on Monday for today’s repeat of the final against Argentina.

Wednesday’s match was already set to be a glamor friendly, but there is added hype in the wake of Mario Goetze’s extra-time winner when the teams last met in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.

About 45,000 people watched the World Cup-winners train on Monday and today’s game at the Espirit Arena is likely to attract a sell-out crowd.

On Sunday, Joachim Loew’s side are to host Scotland in Dortmund in their first qualifier for Euro 2016. For a German team still taking in the World Cup triumph, the two games have come up quickly.

“I think it is not easy for us — that is clear,” Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said on Monday.

“For Scotland, it is the game of the year to start against us. We have to play well against Argentina with regard to the weekend and to be fully prepared for it,” he added.

Germany is to be without Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose, all of whom retired from international soccer after this summer’s tournament.

Most countries would struggle to replace three players who amassed 354 caps between them, but Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff is confident that the squad can move on.

“After every tournament, we have always managed to bring the team to another level and to develop them further,” Bierhoff said at a press conference on Monday.

The most pressing question is who is to replace Lahm as captain. Neuer, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Mats Hummels are all candidates.

“When the coach trusts me to do it, I will do it,” Neuer said. “But, of course I have to talk to him first to find out what the situation is.”

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus, who missed the World Cup through injury, is back in the squad, along with Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez. Highly-rated VfB Stuttgart centerback Antonio Ruediger is also included.

Mesut Ozil has an ankle injury, but Bierhoff said he hoped that the Arsenal midfielder would be fit for the Scotland game. However, Schweinsteiger is set to miss both matches through injury.

Argentina changed managers after the World Cup, with former Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino taking over after Alejandro Sabella stepped down.

Martino must cope without captain Lionel Messi for his first match in charge. The Barcelona attacker played in a 1-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday, but a groin injury has prevented the 27-year-old from traveling to Germany.

“The priority is not the result,” Martino said before leaving for Duesseldorf, taking with him the squad that got to the World Cup final, minus Messi. “What is important is that there is a good atmosphere in the squad.”

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